How did you learn to use a forklift?
by Andrew Stieneke
May 7, 2019
My first experience using a forklift came with about 15 seconds of instruction by a coworker – he pointed out what the three different control levers did, and said “get to work.” And then I was off, carting 2000 pound pallets around a cluttered warehouse and up and down ramps on a forklift with no working horn and very sketchy brakes. It is a miracle that I didn’t kill anyone.
About a year later, I had my first formal forklift training – and learned a ton of information about my forklift and how I should use it. I had been using the forklift unsafely for MONTHS, because I didn’t know any better.
Did you know? On average, 85 people die every year in forklift accidents. Another 35,000 accidents cause serious injury. A further 60,000 accidents cause non-serious injuries. Considering there are less than a million forklifts in use in the US – that means over 10% of all forklifts in the country will be involved in some sort of accident each year. That statistic is staggering!
We routinely speak with clients who didn’t realize OSHA’s strict requirements for forklift training. Each person using a forklift at work:
- Must be trained in a course that includes classroom instruction, a written test, and a driving test
- Must be certified by someone who has the knowledge, training, and experience to train and evaluate the competence of a forklift driver
- Has to be retrained every 3 years, or in any case when a driver has been in a forklift accident or near-miss, or has been observed to drive a forklift in an unsafe manner.
- Must be trained on the specific type of forklift they are using.
That’s right, forklift certification only lasts for 3 years.
And a worker with experience on one type of forklift must be re-trained if they start using a different type of forklift. I was certified to use a Class IV warehouse forklift – but that doesn’t mean it would be ok for me to start using a Class VII all-terrain construction forklift without taking another class, because those two types of lift trucks are totally different.
It is imperative that anyone driving a forklift is trained to do so. Not only can it save you money in OSHA fines – it can keep someone from serious injury or death. If you need to schedule a forklift class, send me an email or call us at (919.329.0006) and we’ll send one of our qualified instructors to train your crew ASAP.